Other than a form of Chinese torture, the meaning, according to wikipedia, is:
"Creeping normalcy, the way a major negative change, which happens slowly in many unnoticed increments, is not perceived as objectionable..."
That definition is a perfect description of...just about everything lately. Our ecosystem is being incrementally depleted and people hardly notice that the trees are dying and the plants are disappearing. I have come across some intriguing postings on the intertubes, and accumulated a few pictures, so here is everything in a jumble, because...why not?! If you need an introduction read the Basic Premise.
Roses blooming, frail and withered, at Thanksgiving is beyond absurd.
Even more bizarre is clematis! It is supposed to bloom in spring or summer...but here it is a few days shy of December, puckered and shriveled - with even more buds surrounding.
Here are maples in front of the Gladstone Tavern almost two weeks ago. Most other trees had shed their leaves early, but this sickly pair is too weak even to jettison their foliage.
The leaves haven't turned a nice bright autumn color - a few are yellow but most are wilted green going straight to brown.
I actually found an article from 2007 in the mainstream media - MSNBC! - that reports on research from the UK Met Office: "Plant growth might be stunted worldwide by the end of this century due to air pollution," which should read, if written today: "Plant growth IS being stunted and trees are dying worldwide due to air pollution."
It says: "Such damage could cause large economic losses through reduced crop yields," which should actually now read "Such damage IS CAUSING large economic losses through reduced crop yields."
The article is accompanied by links that lead to these two photographs of leaves damaged by ozone. Oh, ALL the leaves on everything looked exactly as damaged as these, last summer!
The pictures are attributed to the late Dr. David Karnosky, who worked at the FACE experimental station until his death in October of 2008. Unfortunately I never got the chance to talk to him about the trees, he passed away a few weeks before I found his webpage. From his research I think he may have been the only expert who would have had the courage to acknowledge how urgent and widespread the problem has become, and not buried his head in the sand like everyone else.
I stopped to take this photograph of a sycamore because the color of the field struck me as very odd. It is quite bright for this time of year, perhaps because it is so warm that the grass is trying to grow. Colors everywhere in the landscape are peculiar. I think the slightest change in hue of trunks and branches is enough when taken in totality to turn entire hillsides black.
Across the street from that meadow, here is a randomly selected copse of trees.
Each one exhibits the terrible decay that is just about universal.
Multiple cankers are spreading and growing.
Not only has the color of the woods turned nasty but the whole scope of the landscape is much larger - I can see the contours of distant hills that were obscured until now by the proximate treeline, which has noticeably shrunk. I do not recognize my home of almost 30 years, it is so changed.
Yesterday afternoon, a small flock of Canadian geese flew overhead, and that reminded me that in autumns past their loud honking overhead as they migrated south was a daily occurrence for weeks, and this is only the second time I have heard them this fall. Moreover, they were not in their typical "V" formation, and they were flying northeast, not south, in a rag tag assembly - perhaps it is too much to claim that their honking was plaintive and frantic...but that's how it sounded to me.
For some reason every single tree around this house was removed over two days last week.
Front and back...
not one of five remains.
I wonder how they determined that were all dying.news clip about some bears in a suburban tree. I took some screen shots because apparently trees in Florida are dying too.
These transparent crowns are abnormally thin.
The "tufting" of needles at the tips of branches is classic ozone damage, as the older, more damaged inner needles fall. In the photo below, it is evident that entire branches have been snapping off.
Following are a couple of pictures from a National Geographic photo contest, because I like them! The trunk in this haunting picture looks streaked with leaking sap.
This supercell thunderstorm tornado in Montana is quite impressive. I can't imagine how frightening it would be to witness it in person.photo contest - the first is supposed to be pines above beech - it's hard to imagine these treetops any thinner without them being completely dead.
I fear this burning moor is the landscape of the not-too-distant future:
Here's what the UN has to say (all they have to say) about Peroxyacetyl nitrate: "component of phytochemical smog, injurious to plants at a concentration of more than 0.05 parts per million." PAN formation is enhanced from burning ethanol, according to this paper from Brazil, which is quite fascinating, since it dates from 1988 and is one of the very few studies I have been able to locate that examines the effects of ethanol emissions.
This entry goes into more depth - I'm going to intersperse passages with photos of our post-Thanksgiving feast on the Friday after.
|Alice is still in her pajamas when she checks the turkey. A potential blogger?
"Have you ever stepped out on a sunny day in a large city? Spend enough time out of doors, especially in the urban center, and you may notice that your eyes grow irritated and begin to water uncontrollably. While the camouflage of general metropolitan bustle may hide it from notice, you might also note much of whatever foliage there may be is sickly and decayed. These two effects of modern industrialization are linked to a single molecule, forming an essential component of the ominous haze hovering above and around you. Peroxyacetyl nitrate, commonly abbreviated as PAN, is an important contributor to the phenomenon of photochemical smog. As a lacrimator and strong oxidizer, it wreaks general havoc with city residents and plant matter."
"PAN is the most abundant representative of a family of organic compounds called peroxyacyl nitrates. Scientists were entirely unaware of these compounds until the 1960s, when they were first identified among the many components of urban smog. PAN forms in the atmosphere through a series of complicated chemical reactions deriving from hydrogen peroxide, hydrocarbons, and nitrogen oxides emitted from sources of urban pollution such as power plants, oil refineries, automobiles, lawnmowers, and aircraft. The total reaction begins with the introduction of hydrocarbons or aromatic compounds to hydrogen peroxide (OH) molecules. They form the compound acetaldehyde (CH3OH), which then reacts again with hydrogen peroxide to form CH3CO3and water (H2O). This compound gains a dioxide. In the final step, CH3CO3 reacts with a nitrogen dioxide to form PAN."
"This final reaction is reversible, which means that it can occur in either direction. PAN can degrade into a nitrogen dioxide and acetyl compound as easily as it formed. Which state it occupies depends upon the ambient temperature. In warmer air temperatures, the compound either reacts or breaks down into its components. In colder temperatures, PAN remains stable. As a consequence, the concentration of PAN tends to be greater during the night than during the day. When the sun is shining, convection currents carry those clouds of PAN that don't decompose high into the troposphere, where the colder temperatures allow it a modicum of stability. Due to its constant forming, deforming, and mutation, PAN is easily dispersed from its original point of catalyzation in a smog that extends beyond the city center."
"Chemists have not yet discovered any natural source for PAN; it seems to have arisen only with the introduction of widespread fossil fuel use. Because its only source is pollution and it is the second most abundant molecule, next to ozone, in photochemical smog, measurement of PAN is a good indication of overall smog levels."
"Due to its highly oxidizing nature, PAN is injurious to plants in any concentration greater than 50 parts per billion, a number easily exceeded in the world's most polluted cities. In smaller concentrations, it is still an eye irritant."
The World Meteorological Organization devotes this section to ozone:
"Not considering water vapour, tropospheric ozone is currently the third most important greenhouse gas after CO2 and CH4 [Houghton et al., 2001] and is central to the physics, chemistry, and radiative processes in the troposphere. Tropospheric ozone profile information is available from ozone sonde measurements. Surface (ground-level) ozone significantly influences the formation of photochemical smog, and it is an irritant with effects both on the biota and human health.
Our knowledge of trends in the global distribution of surface ozone is still incomplete and observed trends have varied both temporally and spatially [Oltmans et al., 2006]. The Global GAW stations are distributed relatively evenly, but overall, most surface ozone monitoring stations are still located in northern mid-latitudes. There is a need for more remote stations measuring ozone in the middle of continents (e.g., continental Asia), in the tropics and in the southern hemisphere."
"The sum of nitric oxide (NO) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) has traditionally been called NOx. Likewise the sum of many oxidised nitrogen species, both organic and inorganic but excluding nitrous oxide (N2O) and ammonia (NH3), acetonitrile (CH3CN) and hydrocyanic acid (HCN) have traditionally been referred to as NOy. Their measurement in the global atmosphere is very important since NO has a large influence on both ozone and on the hydroxyl radical (OH). NO2 is now being measured globally from satellites and these measurements suggest that substantial concentrations of this gas are present over most of the continents. A large reservoir of fixed nitrogen is present in the atmosphere as NOy. The influence of the deposition of this reservoir on the biosphere is not known at present but could be substantial."
"The latest analysis of observations from the WMO Global Atmosphere Watch Programme shows that the globally averaged mixing ratios of carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) reached new highs in 2009, with CO2 at 386.8 ppm, CH4 at 1803 ppb and N2O at 322.5 ppb. These values are greater than those in pre-industrial times (before 1750) by 38%, 158% and 19%, respec- tively. Atmospheric growth rates of CO2 and N2O in 2009 are consistent with recent years, but are lower than in 2008. After nearly a decade of no growth, atmospheric CH4 has increased during the past three years. The reasons for renewed growth of atmospheric methane are not fully understood, but emissions from natural sources (from northern latitudes and the tropics) are considered potential causes. The NOAA Annual Greenhouse Gas Index shows that from 1990 to 2009, radiative forcing by all long- lived greenhouse gases increased by 27.5%, with CO2 accounting for nearly 80% of this increase. The combined radiative forcing by halocarbons is nearly double that of N2O."
|Did I mention I missed the Amwell Valley Hunt Ball to go to the Carbon Pricing Conference??
"Ozone damage can lead to 10-40% growth loss, premature aging, and a decrease in pollen lifespan."Almost done...a fantastic montage and interview with Joni Mitchell, featuring "Blue"...
As a footnote, Doc was inordinately pleased with his braid, and later after the dinner we made a wager: I bet that there will be food riots by July 2011, and he bet there won't.
If I win, he has to give me a bottle of Chateau D'Yquem, and if he's right, I'll owe him a really nice Margaux. Given this story at Climate Progress about crop yield reduction from extreme weather, which doesn't even include ozone damage, I'm feeling fairly confident. That I'll win the bet, that is. Not confident about much else.